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7/10

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Road Test

Audi A3 e-tron Driven

Driven August 2014

Additional Info

Thirty-five g/km of CO2. Not the first number you'd expect to find kicking off a TG review. Then there's 188mpg. Ditto. They're the headline stats for this Audi A3 Sportback e-tron, and they're impressive numbers.

This car is the first production plug-in petrol-electric hybrid from Audi, one that marries new-world tech with familiarity. It's not bleeding-edge, but there's nothing old-world about it. First off, it sits on the MQB platform, like a host of other VAG cars. To this is added a 1.4-litre 4cyl turbo petrol ICE, and a small electric motor sandwiched between the flywheel and the six-speed S tronic DSG 'box. A battery sits under the rear bench providing juice for the motor.

Drive goes to the front, in a variety of ways. Default is EV mode, so you'll always push off purely on electric. There's Hybrid Hold, which uses just the engine and saves electric power, and another mode that uses the hybrid system's full 204bhp and 258lb ft of torque output.

This latter mode brings with it some decent performance. Zero to 62mph takes 7.6secs and it'll top out at 138mph. It feels punchy, too - in EV mode that torque gives you a real sense of satisfaction and will take you up to 81mph. Overtaking is a breeze.

Once the battery starts to wane - or you switch to Charge mode - the transition into petrol is seamless, too. That 8.8kWh battery promises a range of up to 31 miles, though by mixing up the modes, charging and exploiting the narrow powerband, on our short mixed test route we manged 69 per cent on electric, 31 per cent on fuel. The overriding feeling? One of calm. Sure, the weight of the electric gubbins means the handling spark has been dulled, but the ride is lovely.

However, there is one final impressive number, and that's the price: £29,950, after the £5k government grant, makes it nearly as expensive as the vastly cooler BMW i3, or £5k more than the similarly fast but not as clean or fuel-sipping A3 Sportback 1.8 TFSi.

Vijay Pattni

The Numbers

1395cc, 4cyl petrol plus electric motor, FWD, 204bhp, 258lb ft, 188mpg, 35g/km CO2, 0-62 in 7.6secs, 138mph, 1574kg, £29,950 inc government grant

The Verdict

A solid and pleasing hybrid car that thankfully doesn't scream eco-warrior.

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